So — high school football for girls? Not just girls playing football with the boys, but football programs for girls only, How does that sound?
I would say it sounds good. More football is always welcome, regardless of who’s playing. I enjoyed covering the Baltimore Burn, of the National Women’s Football League (later Association), which used CCBC-Dundalk as its home field back in the early 2000’s.
But good ideas are not always good ideas.
Will high schools be able to find 30 girls in the fall to play football (make that 40-50 if they want to have a junior varsity team)? Girls who don’t want to play soccer, field hockey, volleyball, cross country or cheerleading?
(I am aware not all state high school associations in the country are similar. Some don’t offer field hockey. Some play soccer in the winter.)
Then there’s asking money-strapped school systems to fund a second football program at each school. Football ain’t cheap, in terms of equipment and usually having much larger coaching staffs.
So, do schools drop field hockey? Volleyball? Ask their local governments to raise taxes to hep finance girls football?
And if girls need a football team, how about volleyball for boys? I would have loved that option when I was in high school.
I bring this up because of a lawsuit in Utah, filed against the Utah state athletic association and several local districts, demanding high school football for girls.
The student who filed the lawsuit along with her father, was a Youtube sensation when she was nine-years-old, and a video of her running circles around nine-year-old boys while playing football went viral.
She ended up on a Wheaties box.
Alas, she stopped growing at five feet tall, and I’m figuring those boys she ran circles around, didn’t. So, even though she can play on the boys team, she doesn’t want to: “these kids are twice my size,” she told the Washington Post.
(Just an aside: she gets sympathy from the media for not wanting to play against larger and stronger boys. But girls who do not want to compete against larger, stronger and faster trans girls in other sports get told to shut up and stop being transphobic. Interesting, huh?)
Anyway, the lawsuit filed in Utah claims the state athletic association is violating Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by not providing girls tackle football as an interscholastic sport.
The expressed hope is, if they win in Utah, they can start spreading girls football to the rest of the country.
The young lady and her father already formed the Independent Utah Girls Tackle Football League three years ago. But they still want official high school teams for girls for reasons that seemed to boil down to “we don’t get enough attention.”
Reportedly there were 270 high school girls in that league. Well, good. That’s about nine teams.
(Then again, maybe that’s enough in a state with a population of 3.2 million. Can’t be too many high schools in the state.)
(There are 155 schools in Utah.)
(Maryland has 198 public schools.)
Anyway ... the thing with claiming a Title IX violation is, you have to prove there’s a demand for that particular sport.
In a state that has about 100,000 students participating in high school sports, 270 playing in an independent league really isn’t that much.
A survey in one of the school districts being sued found the two sports girls most wanted to be offered were archery and cheerleading. Neither of which are currently sanctioned sports in Utah.
(No cheerleading? Seriously?)
Another survey showed that out of 35 possible sports for girls to choose, football was 15th. Is that popular enough? The judge should determine any day now.
My final concern is it seems whenever Title IX is used to create a new girls sport, a boys sports gets the axe.
It’s why my alma mater, Towson University, currently offers six varsity sports for men, and 13 for women. And the men have six because Towson alumni rallied when the university tried to cut baseball earlier this decade.
Back in college, I wrote a lengthy term paper on Title IX. I don’t recall its intention being to reduce athletic opportunities for men.
My feeling is this lawsuit won’t succeed, that there isn’t enough evidence of a high demand for girls tackle football.
But if it does ... that will be an interesting day.